Four Examples of Sectionalism in American History

Sectionalism: Loyalty to a Region

Sectionalism is the loyalty of a person to a region or section of a country instead of the entire nation. This is especially true in the United States, where New Englanders were fearful of the expansion of the west. The idea of sectionalism is rooted in the complexities of the American past and continues to sway our society today. Here are four examples of sectionalism from the Civil War to the early twentieth century. Each example will highlight an aspect of this conflict and offer possible solutions.

Civil War

During the Civil War, racial and class differences caused a division in the United States, but how did this result in sectionalism? This debate was largely fueled by the growing reliance of southern states on Black slavery and their defense of it. Although slavery was initially considered contrary to freedom, it was tolerated in order to develop the U.S. Constitution. It eventually found advocates. The expansion of slavery into Missouri, as well as federal tariffs, further fueled this volatile debate. Slavery threatened to break up the American union.

Early twentieth century

While slavery had long been in the past, the emergence of the American Revolution in the early nineteenth century pushed it into the forefront of American politics and culture. Its expansion helped divide the country into zones of freedom and unfreedom, and it also led to the rise of sectionalism in the United States. The new freedom movement was a reaction to slavery's corrosive effects on society. In addition to dividing the country into different sections, it also gave rise to new political parties and religious organizations.

Missouri Territory

When the Missouri Territory applied for statehood in 1818, it was an uphill battle. Originally part of the 800-thousand-square-mile Louisiana Purchase from France, it was called the Louisiana Territory until 1812, when it changed its name to Missouri Territory. That was done to avoid confusion with the newly admitted state of Louisiana. But abolitionists remained opposed to Missouri's plan to become a slave state.

New Englanders' fear of the West

The American Revolution was sparked by events and writers from New England. The Battles of Lexington and Concord, fought between British troops and Massachusetts militia, were pivotal moments in the development of the country. After the Revolution, New England became a center of scientific research, technology and financial services. The Iroquois people had inhabited the region from the 12th to the 18th centuries. European settlers referred to it as Norumbega.

Current state of sectionalism

Sectionalism is a type of resistance to national unity. It is manifested in various forms, including opposition in public opinion, combined votes in presidential elections, and economic separateness. In some cases, sectionalism is the basis for forcible resistance. The United States is a good example of sectionalism in action. In the United States, sectionalism is most visible in the Midwest, where the population is highly homogeneous.

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